Around five years ago, I realized that I was losing the ability to engage with people who aren’t like-minded. The idea of discussing any issue that may bring out opposing opinions, with my fellow Americans was starting to give me heartburn. I have always been an introvert, and the situation was getting worse. This lack of tolerance to be around people who didn’t hold same opinions as mine had started taking a toll on my life. It was affecting my work, my social circle, my family; my whole life.
I was constantly changing jobs because I was unable to feel that I belonged there and make any meaningful connections with people. I disliked my co-workers (men and women alike), I despised being around people in lunchroom and just wanted to disappear (or people to disappear).
This strong need for solitude turned me into a loner. But something just wasn’t right. It wasn’t the usual introvert behavior I had always shown. I decided to visit a therapist, (even though I’ve always been skeptical about them).
After a thorough examination and three visits, I was told I had social anxiety and Bi-polar disorder. Bi-polar people are not fit to function around people because of their episodes of mania and rage. I took some time off and went to live with my sister; in such time family is the only support you need.
One day after dinner, my sister and I were sitting on the porch drinking chamomile tea. I told her about my concerns; how it was going to be extremely difficult to work and make a living, considering my mental health. She told me I always loved making organic lip balms and lip-glosses at home and if I had ever considered turning it into something more than a hobby.
My lip-balms and glosses were quite popular in my circle. I made them for myself and sometimes upon request of a friend or family member but I never thought about turning into an entrepreneurial venture. It was not a bad suggestion though.
There were several perks of starting your own business:
- No unnecessary interaction with people
- I didn’t have to leave the house
- I could work on my own accord.
- Even if I had a manic episode, it wouldn’t turn into a public show.
After coming back home, I kept on thinking about it. It seemed like a tempting idea, but the amount of work I would have to put in scared me. After two days, I ended up getting into an argument with my co-worker that escalated quickly and turned ugly.
I left work early that day. Coming home, I give proper consideration to starting my own business, looked at all the possible pros and cons, if I had enough capital or not, if I was going to be able to deliver orders or not. Next thing was finding suppliers for materials for lip-glosses and outsource a packaging company for Custom Lip Gloss Boxes.
I called over a friend who has an MBA in marketing and business analytics. She helped with the business model, pricing, and placement strategies. The initial model was completely online and I was relying on e-commerce a hundred percent.
I started out by making social media handles for my product. At first it was just WOM, I didn’t put a separate marketing budget as custom packaging was going to be main medium for me. I used the same designing i.e. logo, graphics, and color combinations that packaging firm developed for my custom boxes, over my social media pages (later on my website as well).
My family and friends helped me a lot as well. The response was overwhelming, I wasn’t expecting so many people to place order for the glosses, but guess we’re all dying to our hands on organic and natural products. Within first 48 hours of going live, I received 46 orders. It was way more than I had anticipated. After receiving orders, I got the raw material accordingly; it is extremely important for new cosmetic ventures to be careful with supply chain. You can’t afford to lose money by buying more raw material than needed.
I still remember how nervous I was when I was about to ship my first batch of lip-glosses. To build trust and invoke an emotional response from customers, I placed a handwritten note in every package, which summarized as me thanking and asking the customers to leave an online review.
Three days after I dispatched the orders, I got my first positive review from a customer, which was very encouraging. After that, there was no looking back, now I have added lip-balm and lip-sting lines as well and my products have a counter at Sephora. This should be an example for everyone, don’t let your mental illnesses define you. You’re a strong person, don’t reduce your self-worth to a mere diagnosis. You’re still worthy and capable of achieving great things.